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Solving skills crisis starts at preschool: Dr Goodnight

Byron Connolly | May 12, 2015
CIO chats to SAS founder, Dr Jim Goodnight

CIO: What are your thoughts on the term big data? Is it hype or is it really something that organisations in every industry need to think about?

Clearly big data is being generated more and more and when we get into this Internet of Things, the [amount of] data generated is going to be enormous. Every company can usually benefit by taking all the data they do collect and analysing it for predictive purposes.

CIO: That's a challenge for the CIO isn't it?

We've seen banking CIOs have a fortress mentality that says 'we are not going to let any malware sneak in so we are just not going to let any new software in.' That's a hard one to fight, it takes us a year almost to get a new installation of software into a bank because their mentality is to hold fort.

CIO:What are some of the biggest challenges CIOs are facing when it comes to analysing their data and presenting it in a meaningful way for the business?

Goodnight: CIOs need to be more in touch with business users and not just say ' we've got the data, we can write our own programs, you just tell us the programs you want us to write.'

We have been working on this massively parallel stuff for six years -- 600 people working on this one problem. A couple of programmers are not going to have anything comparable to what we have been able to develop. There's somewhat of an IT mentality that IT can just write the code and they can't within any reasonable time and without huge resources.

CIO: Which markets will present the most opportunity for SAS in the years ahead?

Goodnight: Our biggest growth sector right now is healthcare -- especially in the US because there have been some mandates about digital record keeping. That suddenly puts a huge amount of data at our disposal to help analyse things like patient safety.

We have products like Episode Analytics that follows the patient from the time they entered [the hospital] to the time they left to see during that episode, were there any side effects or infections that occurred? When you find things like that the hospital can correct the procedure so these things don't happen again.

Pharmaceutical is a big market for us doing analysis of the efficacy and side effects of drugs. We are doing a lot of work with governments in the fraud area from unemployment fraud to tax fraud.

CIO: Last year, SAS reported its 38th year of consecutive growth. Do you expect to continue the run of form this year?

Goodnight: It's going to be tough this year quite frankly [to grow], the US dollar is so strong. Two-thirds of our revenue comes from overseas, we've been pricing in local currency for many years, we don't change the rate based on the dollar. So right now, two-thirds of our revenue is getting a 20 per cent haircut. So we are going to have to work really hard for the rest of the year to overcome the strength of the dollar.

 

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